Critical Infrastructure Vulnerability and Protection
Read the required literature, especially National Infrastructure Protection Plan (2009), pp. 76-79;
and, Sector-Specific Plans (SSPs), Department of Homeland Security. Answer the following:
- Explain the relationship of National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) and Sector-Specific Plans
(SSPs). Also, their relationship with Department of Homeland Security.
- Explain the function of an SSP; choose a particular SSP and describe its purpose. Also, why did you
choose that particular plan?
- What are some lessons learned from past natural disasters? Explain in terms of people and
infrastructures? Be specific.
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Length: This Case Assignment should be at least 3 pages not counting the title page and references.
References: At least two references should be included from academic sources listed below.(e.g. peer-
reviewed journal articles). Required readings are included. Quoted material should not exceed 10% of the
total paper (since the focus of these assignments is critical thinking).
Critical Infrastructure Vulnerability and Protection
Relationship between National Infrastructure Protection Plan, Sector Specific Plans
and Department of Homeland Security
The sophisticated nature of America’s infrastructure such as cyber network, power plants,
transport network, and many others are the engine that drives America’s economy and society in
achieving the nation’s growth potential. The national infrastructure is essential for the smooth
running and the functioning of American society, yet these vital infrastructures are faced with
greater risks that the 21 st century presents, greatest among them being the terrorist attacks and
other natural and man-made disasters. The risks pose a threat to halting or disrupting the
functioning of the economy, and protecting them is crucial as this will enhance public security,
protect the health and safety sector, economic vibrancy and improve general quality of life in the
nation. It is against this background that the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) was
established in 2006 and later reviewed in 2009 to identify America’s Critical Infrastructure and
Key resources (CIKR) in order to protect them from likely threats (NIPP, 2009).
National Infrastructure Protection Plan, NIPP, was therefore established to identify the
infrastructure and resources that are critical to the United States of America (USA), prioritize
them, since not all resources are equally important, and then protect them from the likely threats
CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE VULNERABILITY AND PROTECTION 3
such as terrorist attacks and other man-made and natural catastrophes. Protection, in accordance
to NIPP, involves adopting plans geared towards alleviating the risks, preventing the threats from
taking place, or diluting the effects resulting from such disasters taking place. Such plans include
actions such as boosting security, increasing surveillance, enhancing resilience among other
measures. NIPP is supported by Sector Specific Plans (SSPs). US economy is composed of
various sectors with various needs, issues and concerns. For this reason, SSPs were also
formulated soon after NIPP and several specific sectors were identified, such as banking, public
health, energy, defense, transportation, emergency, among others (Homeland Security, 2013).
The sector specific plans are suitably designed to address the concerns of the various sectors
identified. NIPP and SSPs are related in the sense that SSPs support the NIPP in identifying the
nation’s goals and priorities, and proving protection. Also, there are eighteen sectors within the
sector specific plans which are within the NIPP. Both NIPP and SSPs therefore complement each
other in addressing the nation’s protection plans. The SSPs also outlines the road map and a
framework that enables the NIPP to implements its action plans in all the identified sectors. In
other words, the SSPs provide support to implementation of the NIPP and together they provide
a means identification of the vital infrastructure, their possible threats and protecting them from
Both NIPP and SSPs form an integral part of the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS). NIPP and SSPs were formed under the DHS. This is because the Department of
Homeland Security is the one that has the vital obligation and responsibility of pioneering the
Nations efforts geared towards providing protection to the nation’s infrastructure and
strengthening security situation of the nation in order to avert threats, or reduce their impacts
should they occur (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2008). The DHS also monitors,
CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE VULNERABILITY AND PROTECTION 4
supervises the NIPP and SSPs programs and ensuring that its objectives are kept on track and
Description and Functions of an SSP
The Structure Specific Program, SSP, is a detailed set of plans that are established and
identified by a Sector Specific Agency. Within the critical infrastructures identified in NIPP and
DHS, the Sectors specific Agency is supposed to come up with specific plans suitable for each
sector that are implemented in liaison with the NIPP. These set of plans for the specific sectors
are what are termed as Sector Specific Plans (Homeland Security, 2013). The SSP is meant to
serve several functions including:
Providing the framework that identifies the nation’s critical infrastructure, assessing their
possible threats and vulnerabilities, and then giving them priority protection based on
assessments of the risks likely to face them.
Defining a sector’s duties and responsibilities and identifying their security partners as
well as the body responsible for regulating the sector.
Enhancing partnering and interaction among sectors by encouraging sharing of
information and coordination of sector activities.
They also establish the aims and objectives of the sectors and their respective partners.
The goals are directed towards protecting a particular sector.
A good example of a sector specific plan is the Emergency Services sector specific plan,
(ES SSP). The Emergency Services Sector, ESS, deals with disaster preparedness and provision
or rapid responses to sudden disaster in the nation. It also trains emergency personnel, provides
emergency services by anticipating emergency threats, preventing them or reducing the impacts
of such disasters, and also enhancing resilience and helping those affected by the disaster to
CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE VULNERABILITY AND PROTECTION 5
quickly recover (Homeland Security, 2013). It aims at protecting the environment, safeguarding
individual properties and minimizing vulnerability. It also entails responses to disasters such as
fire, health risks. The emergency sector specific plan is the most crucial, according to me, as it
serves to reduce the impacts of sudden man-made and natural disaster by providing swift
response. It is also concerned with saving lives and properties of individuals as well as protecting
Lessons learnt from past Natural Disasters (Example, hurricane Katrina)
Naturals disasters have in the past rocked the nation and caused massive destruction of
infrastructure, human loss, destruction of the environment, health risks and general panic and
economic slump. Some of the worst natural disasters to have hit USA include hurricanes, floods,
tornadoes, forest fires, and volcanic eruptions. The worst natural disaster in recent times is the
Hurricane Katrina. This disaster is the worst in America’s history in terms of human loss and
financial implications. It is estimated to have claimed about 1,800 lives and cost damages
amounting to $18 billion. Among the lessons learnt include,
There is need to enhance the responsiveness during disasters and train more rapid
response teams to minimize impact of disasters.
The nation was not well prepared to handle a disaster of such magnitude
There was need to increase regional coordination and planning
It generated a necessity to implementing the National Infrastructure Protection Plans
The federal government need to incorporate volunteers, NGS and other sectors to boost
its efforts during a disaster.
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In conclusion, the twenty first century poses widespread risks and threats to the general
infrastructure of the nation. National infrastructure is very crucial in the smooth function of the
economy, strengthen investor confidence and steer growth. It is necessary, therefore, to
implement the National Infrastructure Protection plan and its constituent SSPs to reduce threat,
increase disaster preparedness, promote resilience and recovery, and to provide general
protection and security to both the physical and cyber infrastructure. Disasters, natural or man-
made, may be difficult to eradicate, but their impacts can greatly be reduces if specific security
and protection plans are implemented.
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Homeland Security (2013). Hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Committee Subject: ‘The Department of Homeland Security at 10 Years: A Progress
Report on Management’.
National Infrastructure Protection Plan, (2009). Partnering to Enhance Protection and Resiliency.
US Department Of Homeland Security.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, (2008). “Sector-Specific Plans,”